I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.
The Bill consolidates enactments relating to income tax and corporation tax. The last such consolidation took place in 1970 and the additions and amendments to the law made by each subsequent Finance Act have made a new consolidation exercise necessary. The Bill is pure consolidation. No amendment to the present law is made.
The House will recognise, if only from the massive bulk of the Bill—it contains 845 clauses and more than 1,000 pages — that the work of consolidation represents a formidable achievement on the part of those concerned. We owe a debt of gratitude especially to the draftsman who worked for over four years to produce the Bill. She had to deal not only with the legislation as it existed but with all the Finance Acts each year, including two Finance Acts last year. If I were a farmer, I would give the Bill a pat.
I should, however, make it clear that there are a number of technical amendments which will have to be dealt with in Committee in the fairly near future. I make that clear for the technical experts who scrutinise the text in the meantime.
The Bill has been passed in another place where, in the usual way, it was referred to the Joint Committee on Consolidation, &c., Bills. That Committee reported that the Bill is pure consolidation. I commend the Bill to the House.
It is not right that either laymen or lawyers should have to pick their way through the coded messages put through the House over a period of 17 years. I am a strong and long-standing enthusiast of consolidation.
I want to ask the Minister only one question. The Bill says that there will be a table of derivations. May we also have a table of destinations so that we may know legislatively not only where we have been but where we are going?
This is one of those occasions when one can ingratiate oneself with the Speaker and hope to be encouraged to speak again, and one can ingratiate oneself with one's Scottish comrades. I so do, and I commend the Bill to the House.
Question put and agreed to.
Bill accordingly read a Second time.
Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House. —[ Mr. Lightbown.]